Like a fish out of water.
That’s how I felt when I came to Princeton. Out of place. I know most people usually feel this way as freshmen, but coming from a super tiny high school (with a class size of 27) where I knew everyone, I started off the year questioning whether or not I would ever feel comfortable here, or belong here. I came in with only one upperclassmen friend, and never before had I walked into a dining hall and not known anyone. All of a sudden, I started scheduling who I would catch meals with in advance.
One month later, there haven’t been major changes. I still plan out all my meals and use Google Maps religiously (that awkward moment when the voice comes on and everyone knows you’re a freshman). I have, however, begun to appreciate some little things, signs that make me feel like I might belong at Princeton.
I finally understand a handful of the million different acronyms that are used for everything. I can now greet a handful of people on the way to class or when I walk into a dining hall. Some of us at Forbes have also developed a mini-tradition of gathering in the dining hall in the wee hours of the morning to finish long-procrastinated work (which can end up with rooftop excursions instead of finished problem sets) and think of creative substitutes for milk to eat cereal with (there is always a milk shortage and the top contenders for milk substitutes are coffee and egg whites.)
I’ve also learned that people who say, “Let’s hang out sometime” really don’t mean it. When I really want to spend time with people, I make a Google calendar event right there and then, so we are both held accountable. I relate with people running with me to Frist at 10:03 p.m., hoping for late meal, at a fundamental level. I love walking home from the Street on Saturday nights, having befriended people who I never thought I’d talk to. Even my tiny shower, which I never thought I would adjust to, is what I most look forward to at the end of each day.
I know that it’s only been a month and that it’s unrealistic to have wanted to feel at home from the second I stepped foot on campus, but the feelings of comfort are slowly creeping in as I become settled because of all these itty bitty little things.